The diaper is about 5 inches at the waist, tiny.
So is its wearer. He is the little one—el pequeño—among the smallest infants sent home from Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. He weighed less than 3 pounds when born.
Dressed this day in a yellow onesie, Spanish and English drifting between his mother and father, his mouth forms a circle, as if to whistle. He has gained just over 1 pound.
A Madonna statue on a corner table is aproned by flowers. More petals brightly punctuate the entrance to this home in Wyoming, Michigan.
It is a long ways from the emergency delivery, when Maura Urbina feared her baby might not survive.
“Oh, my God. I was praying,” recalls Urbina. “I said, ‘I want him to be in no pain.’ I was praying. I was crying.”
She becomes speechless. Asked if it is too difficult to relive, she stares at her son, cradled in her left arm. Their eyes appear locked. She cannot respond or lift her gaze.
His eyes are not quite black, but also not dark brown. Charcoal?
These bulletin-board eyes stare up from an inside page of a Spanish-language newspaper, El Informador.
This is how local Hispanics communicate, neighborhood leaders say, not by fliers in a restaurant or supermarket, as in other communities. Word of mouth rules and local newspapers help spread the word.
A Mexico City native, Urbina has been in the United States about 20 years. She and Scott Pennock, a Caledonia native, married several years ago. She is 42; he is 36. They have two daughters: Isabella, 3 this coming October, and Gabriella, 2 the same month. They are called Bella and Gabby.
Their third child would be a blessing. But four months into Urbina’s pregnancy, a doctor and a counselor gathered to talk with her and her husband. Their baby was very small. There was the possibility he could be born with Down syndrome, problems with kidneys, possibly never walk.
The couple absorbed the news.
Two months later, on June 10, specialists delivered baby Scott Philip prematurely at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. He weighed 2 pounds, 8 ounces, born at 30 weeks and five days’ gestation, according to hospital records. When sent home on July 11, he clocked in at 3 pounds, 6 ounces.
“I can’t say for sure he was absolutely the smallest baby (ever discharged), but he was definitely one of the smallest,” said Krista Haines, MD, lead neonatologist heading the Small Baby Unit within the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
Urbina was identified early as having intrauterine growth restriction, a condition in which an unborn baby is not developing at a normal rate, Dr. Haines said. Then came severe preeclampsia, which can endanger the mother or child.
Continued therapy-development planning is important to deal with any “potential neurodevelopmental and behavioral deficits,” Dr. Haines said.
Urbina has nothing but praise for her baby’s caregivers.
“They were crying all the time,” she said. “They look at me, I was terrible, and they gave me lots of hugs.”
On this day, Baby Scott’s diaper is 6 inches across. There is no sign yet of developmental disabilities, Urbina says.
“I listened to other babies crying (in the neonatal unit). He never cry. I talk to God all the time and say, ‘Please, please, he is a special baby, and I am a special mommy.’”
“He is like a stunted flower,” adds Scott. “But as soon as he catches up …” His voice also breaks.
The baby sleeps in a white crib in his sisters’ room, its bedding blue. Unicorns, bears and other stuffed animals look over them from shelves, soft purples, bright pinks, a smiling, rainbow menagerie. A framed Madonna is nearby, an aura behind her coral.
Urbina is not looking at them. She is looking into bulletin-board eyes.
“I want to show you a lot of things,” she says. “Flowers. The world has a lot of color.
“The sky is blue.”